The Goa of Malvan: Vengurla, Maharashtra
Vengurla is a small beach town in the Sindhudurg region of Konkan, Maharashtra in southern India. This beach town is surrounded by lush green foliage of cashew, coconut, mango and various other kind of berry trees. The hills of Dabholi, Tulas and Mochemad lie in the north, east and south of Vengurla, while the mighty Arabian Sea is located to its west.
There are multiple options to reach the town of Vengurla. The first option is to take a flight to Goa and then hop onto a local bus or hire a taxi/bike. Vengurla is around 67 km from Panjim, the state capital of Goa.
The second option is to take one of the many Konkan railway trains that ply between Mumbai and Mangalore and get off at either Sawantwadi or Kudal railway station, which are at a distance of around 25 km and 33 km from Vengurla respectively. One can hop onto a local MSRTC government bus and reach the Vengurla bus stand.
From the bus stand, travellers have the option of either walking to the beach or taking a auto rickshaw. The beach is around 1.5-2 km from the town area and is the most ideal place to find a stay.
The first thing travellers will notice when they reach Vengurla is that the place has a very laid back feel and is in many ways identical to Goa. The language spoken by the locals is a mixture of Konkani and Marathi, the shops are all shut in the afternoon and a few minutes in the town and one will surely feel the south Goa vibe.
Vengurla is regarded as the jewel of Sindhudurg district because of the town’s rich cultural, historic and religious heritage with iconic temples dedicated to Shri Devi Sateri and Shri Rameshwar which are the star attractions. There is also the sea-shore which has white sand and crystal clear water all through the year.
In 1638, Dutch representative Johns Van Twist obtained permission from Shah, the ruler of the place to set up a small trade settlement, which eventually led to the Dutch building a fort around this settlement and gaining a stronghold over the region right up to 1682. Vengurla therefore became a well-equipped naval base for the Dutch and when they finally left, the Sawants captured their abandoned trade settlement, which was later taken over by the British rulers.
Vengurla is also famous for the Vengurla rocks. These are found off the coast and named Brent Rocks and locally called Bandara. Vengurla is also well-known for its folk art – Dashavatara. These comprise stories narrated from mythological epics and are performed by locals in temples. The make-up and drapery are made by the artists themselves.
The best way to get around Vengurla and the neighbouring beaches is to either hire a bike, scooter for the day or book a auto rickshaw. Hiring a bike is the best way to explore the region.
Accommodation in Vengurla is limited to a handful of guest houses and beach shacks which are located on the road leading to the beach starting around a kilometre or two away from the beach. These guest houses provide travellers with semi-deluxe and deluxe rooms and have all modern amenities needed for a good comfortable stay.
Food options are in plenty with all kinds of Malvani sea-food available at various junctions around the town and near the beach. A must try is the Surmai (King Fish) Thali and the Pomfret fry. Prawns and squids are also available at most of the restaurants. The sea food and Chinese preparations are also mouth watering. Vegetarian and chicken dishes are also available but the sea food is the crowd puller in this region.
The best time to visit Vengurla is during the winter months from November to March when the day heat is actually bearable and the nights are cold. Light cotton clothes are recommend all through the year.
Vengurla is the ideal place to set up as base to explore the rest of the villages and beaches around the area, since it’s the most convenient and developed town in the entire region. A short 3-4 day trip is ideal to explore Vengurla and the neighboring beaches.
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